EU Whistleblowing Directive – Irish TranspositionNovember 2021
The new EU Whistleblowing Directive (‘the Directive) is due to be transposed into national law by 17th December 2021.
The purpose of the Directive is to establish uniform minimum protection is in place to ensure that individuals who report breaches of EU law are afforded protection against retaliation from employers or colleagues across all Member States.
The Irish Government has published a general scheme of ‘The Protected Disclosures (Amendment) Bill 2021’ to implement the EU provisions. The Bill includes a number of enhancements to the existing whistleblowing framework in Ireland which includes:
- widening the scope to individuals to include, volunteers, interns, job applicants, suppliers, shareholders, and non-executive directors (and not just employees);
- expanding the definition of “relevant wrongdoings” to include breaches of law in areas such as public procurement, financial services, product safety, transport safety, food safety, animal welfare, public health, consumer protection, privacy, and protection of personal data;
- extending the definition of “penalisation” to include acts such as negative annual performance appraisal and medical referrals (A recent Government press release indicated that the new legislation would put the burden of proof on the employer “it will be assumed that the alleged act of penalisation occurred because the worker made a protected disclosure unless the employer can prove otherwise.”
- requiring that certain private sector employers, as follows, must have internal whistle blowing procedures and channels according to the following remit (all public sector organisations are already required under the 2014 Protected disclosure Act to have these measures in place)
o Private entities with more than 250 employees -from 17 December 2021
o Private entities with between 50-249 employees -from 17 December 2023
o Organisations with less than 50 employees may be required to comply following a risk
assessment of the organisation’s activities and the resulting level of risk
The general scheme of the Bill only provides a broad outline of the proposed legislation and, as always, the final version may differ from the Bill, thus a prudent approach is best adopted at this stage.
By: Eilish Larkin - Regulatory Consultant